Don't give up on life

  • Published
  • By By Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Gary Ziccardi
  • 4th Fighter Wing chaplain
I recently overheard a conversation between two Airmen who were discussing their career progression. One was upset because, given his performance on the last few testing cycles and the small promotion windows, he concluded that his career was virtually over. 

At first I felt some sympathy with his predicament. Lord knows people in the Air Force not only have to think about their jobs, but they also have to be proactive about family budgets, financial planning, spiritual and physical well-being and finding a nurturing place in the community. But the more this Airman talked, the more I realized his quandary was not one of losing his career, but of losing a reason to exist, and that was causing him to be careless with his time. 

Ever hear about Caleb and Joshua? These two gutsy men were the only members of a whole generation of Israelites to cross the Jordan river into the promised land because they exercised great faith and trust in God. 

Just take a look at the Bible story in the book of Joshua, Chapter 14. It's a great story, because in it we see Caleb, who is 85 years old. Did he ask for retirement and a rocking chair? 

No way! 

He said, "Give me that mountain -- up there where those big guys live." 

I love people like that. Like Caleb, some people hold on to a vision, a dream, a sure and determined mindset, which age fails to alter. 

Look at Ted Williams, the great Boston Red Sox slugger, who at age 42 slammed a home run with his last professional swing. 

Or what about George Bernard Shaw who was 94 years old when his first play was produced? Or how about Benjamin Franklin, who at the ripe age of 81 framed the constitution of the United States. 

The point is that with vision and determination, a person is never too old to be productive in life. So even though some of us may be closing out a particular chapter in our lives, the world needs our example. It needs men and women who cannot be bought, whose word is their bond and who put character above money. 

The world needs people who will not lose their individuality in a crowd, who will be as honest in the little things as in the big things, who are unwilling to compromise with wrong and who do not believe that shrewdness, cunning and hard-headedness are the best qualities for a winning team. 

Your world needs people who are not ashamed or afraid to stand for the truth when it is unpopular. The world needs more people in the mold of Caleb, ready and willing to give 100 percent to the very end. 

Remember, 25 years from now, these will be the "good old days."